Jabber – A controversial play
Jabber is a controversial play that has captured its audience with an important message for four years now. Controversial because it tells a story not normally told on a stage. The cast of Jabber is excited to bring their show back to Montreal. For Geordie Theatre Fest.
Each year, Geordie Productions organizes an 8-month tour of their plays to elementary and high schools across Quebec. Jabber is so special that it has been requested at schools across Eastern Canada, and will even perform in the United States.
“Jabber was just immensely popular,” says David Sklar, one of Jabber’s actors. “It’s a really interesting thing for an actor to have such a long contract.” Normally, these shows are retired after their 8-month tour.
Jabber discusses stereotypes in a high school. Specifically, the stereotypes of a young Muslim girl and a rough around the edges white boy. Sklar says the play challenges assumptions we all make of these two characters. “It is about breaking down these stereotypes.”
For example, Fatima, the Muslim girl, touches on assumptions the crowd has probably made about her character right from the beginning. “That is the first assumption that is broken. She has attitude. She’s not scared to talk. She’s not weak. She speaks up for herself. Just because she is wearing a hijab does not mean that she is an oppressed woman.”
Similarly, the audience is set up to make certain assumptions about Jorah, Fatima’s co-star with a rough family life. It’s not a story we’ve seen before.
At the end of the one-hour play, the cast talks to the audience. What are they thinking? Have they had any similar experiences? Sklar says, “A lot of people connect with the character [Fatima], even if they are not Muslim.”
The subject matter of Jabber has received mixed reviews: “There have been schoolboards that say absolutely we want it, this is a conversation that needs to happen. Others have been more tentative. A lot of teachers think that this is a brave play—that it’s an important play—and that it’s something that the students need to see.”
Regardless of the school, the students love Jabber. “Within the first five minutes, they find that they can connect with the show because it’s not a play that talks down to them,” said Sklar. “It’s funny. It’s smart. They end up laughing a lot. They are so receptive.” The reaction of their audience makes performing Jabber that much more fun for the cast and crew.
Although the play is geared towards young people, its wit, pace, and subject makes it an appropriate and enjoyable performance for adults as well. “It’s important to know what teenagers are up to these days,” says Sklar. “It’s important for them to know what young people are thinking and doing. We deal with online bullying, and with posting things online that maybe teenagers shouldn’t be posting. It deals with what is in the mind of teenagers when they start to like people.” It’s a little bit of insight, and an entertaining delivery for adults.
The tremendous success of Jabber has landed it at spot in the Geordie Theatre Fest in Montreal from March 21 through to March 26.
The venue is Monument-National’s Studio Hydro Quebec at 1182 Saint-Laurent Boulevard. For more information about tickets and show times visit www.geordie.ca